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Friday March 20th 2015
First Day of Spring

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Another cold day in Round Lake, not at all spring-like.

Tonight, we have a dinner with SABA members. 

Tomorrow is the big day.

Aaron and I went out for lunch and met up with Pat, then went to another bee yard to check hives.  Losses were high there, too, with starvation being the most common cause, followed by queen failure. 

The hives had been heavy enough when I saw them in September, but a lot of feed can be used up by the time winter sets in.  The hives also had a lot of ventilation, little top insulation, and thin wraps, so that may have accelerated feed consumption.

Aaron and I returned to Aaron's and Karen showed up shortly after.  She stayed a while to chat, then left and Dick came by.  He followed us out to the dinner location, running a  red light along the way to keep up, as Aaron was distracted and did not notice the light changing, as he passed through on amber and Dick had no way to find his supper if he lost us.

We all arrived without further incident and had an excellent supper and a good visit.  We had three tables of beekeepers in a quiet room upstairs in the pub.

I ordered malbec and the bottle said malbec, but it was cabernet sauvignon.  I knew it, and knew that cabernet sauvignon sometimes gives me insomnia, but drank several glasses anyhow and that explains why I am writing this at 2 AM, hoping to get back to sleep soon.

I remember now that there were a lot of dregs in my glass, and in Aaron's so the bottle of wine was probably not the best.

Stoop and you'll be stepped on; stand tall and you'll be shot at.
Carlos A. Urbizo

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Saturday March 21st 2015

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Today is the SABA meeting.

I was the first speaker and the last.  Between, Meghan Milbrath and Wyatt Magnum gave presentations.

My first talk went well, but I had not realized that I was doing the windup speech and had a pretty heavy topic listed as the second: 'Myths', as discussed in the forum previously.  I considered pulling it and running a feel-good slide show, but was not really prepared to make the switch and went ahead with the Myths talk.  As jack predicted, I ran short of time and had to slip past some of the slides, but got it done.  Nobody left early and we had a question after, but I think the audience was a bit in shock.  That was a lot to digest.200 Top-Bar Hive Beekeeping: Wisdom and Pleasure Combined by Wyatt Mangum

I bought Magnum's $45, three-pound book on top bar hives since I have always intended to try that style of beekeeping. 

I doubt TBHs will winter well in Alberta, especially with the small combs that are typical of the TBHs I have seen so far.  He signed it for me.  Bonus!

After, a bunch of us went out for supper.  I had lasagna and three glasses of malbec.  This time the wine was good, but it was more like a cabernet again than malbecs I am accustomed to.

We returned home and I went to bed early.  Again, I slept restlessly and woke up for an hour or two in the middle of the night and sat up a while before I could get back to sleep.  I just can't drink red wines too many days in a row.

We always like those who admire us; we do not always like those whom we admire.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

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Sunday March 22nd 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Well, it is over and I am thinking: where next?  I've been away almost a month and think that Swalwell should be my destination on Tuesday.

Aaron and I met Karen for breakfast at the Malta Diner -- Pat could not be reached -- and then returned home for an hour before we were to meet Karen again to visit hives.

I took the opportunity to book a flight home, leaving at 0630 Tuesday and arriving just before noon.  Tuesday is the 24th and I'll have been gone almost a month -- I left home for Antigua on the 26th of last month -- and it is time to get back.

We then went to one of Aaron's bee locations and Karen gathered some bees for her microscope session this afternoon.  The wind was bitter and we did not stay long. (picture is courtesy of Karen)

Karen left for her course and Aaron and I drove north to Elaine's to  check the top bar hives and, sure enough, they were dead: starved out.  IMO, these hives are too small to house the kind of populations and the amount of stores needed to winter well in the north.

Next, Aaron and I went cell phone shopping, first at AT&T, then Wal-Mart.  We did not buy anything.  I don't want to buy in the States as warranty could be a problem.

I've looked online and in the stores for phones and am not seeing exactly what I want.  I'll go to the Koodo booth at CrossIron and see what I come up with.  I don't want to spend a lot.  I destroy (or lose) a phone every year or two, so $800 phones don't make sense for me.

We returned to Aaron's and killed the rest of the afternoon napping and catching up then met Pat and Karen for supper at Pandera, then parted ways.  They are headed to their homes and I'm at Aaron's for another day.

I've had a touch of sore throat the past two days and avoided drinking anything alcoholic today.  In the evening, Aaron put on "Whiplash' and  after watching a bit of it decided that I would benefit much more from sack time than watching some abusive band leader curse and manipulate young people to some predictable happy ending that is appears to justify the whole bad experience, and went to bed early.  I share this opinion of the movie.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Monday March 23rd 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept until 0745 and awoke refreshed after about ten hours of sleep.  The slight soreness in my throat has vanished.

We're looking forward to going to more of Aaron's yards today and hopefully the winds we experienced yesterday will have quieted.

Karen sent some pictures from yesterday.  If anyone was worried that I am not getting enough to eat, be assured, I am well-fed, as you can see here.

Aaron served oatmeal for breakfast and Karen dropped by on her way home for a bowl.

Aaron and I are hoping to look at some more hives today, but it is still very cool and breezy.

At home, the pond has re-frozen, but warmer weather is expected shortly after I get home.

Aaron and I went out to 'Crazy Jay's' yard and the bees were the best I've seen this trip. 

Aaron put in Apivar and patties, then we drove back to Round Lake, stopping at a Stewart's convenience store for coffee along the way.

We'll have leftover corned beef and cabbage for supper, probably watch some video and crawl in early.  I have to be at ALB by 0530 tomorrow, so I'll pack and get ready.

Tomorrow night, God willin' and the cricks don't rise, I'll sleep in my own bed again.  As much as I like travel and being away, it will be good to be home and nice to look into my own hives for a change.

I went to bed early, but slept fitfully and awoke around midnight to the realization that I had not checked in for my flight.  I tried online, but could not, since United requires a cell phone with their app to scan passports, so I decided to leave an hour earlier than I had planned in the morning  to be sure to make the cutoff.

Any other airline allows just entering the data online, but not UA.  Too clever by half.

Nothing in the world is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.
Victor Hugo

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Tuesday March 24th 2015

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It is 0518 and I am sitting in the Gate 5 departure lounge at ALB, having gotten up at 0300, packed, and left 37 George Avenue at 0400.

As mentioned previously, I had expected to rise later and leave Round Lake after 0500, but when I tried to check in last night, United would not check me in without having a smartphone to scan my passport.  So, remembering long lines at UVF, I decided to arrive two hours early and here I am.

There was no line and I cleared the security in moments, had breakfast at McDonalds and found my gate within fifteen minutes after being dropped off.  I'd like to snooze, but worry I might miss the boarding call.

Airport wi-fi here is fast enough to watch Netflix, but I got my fill of video at Aaron's (and I doubt I'll ever want to see another episode of Futurama.)

Maybe I'll read some back pages in my diary and see what I did last spring about this time and in previous springs.  It is now a half-hour until boarding and an hour until take-off.  Next stop: Chicago.

*   *   *   *   *

Now, at 0947 local, I am sitting, waiting at gate C6 at ORD for United to find a crew to fly the plane which should be leaving right now.

Oh!  They found them and we are now boarding.

We boarded and found the plane is a Brazilian regional jet.  It was quite new and quiet.  The flight went well and we arrived on time. 

I walked out of the airport and Mike was just making his first circle through the airport drive and I got in.  We had agreed on this method of meeting since I had no phone.

We drove to Airdrie where I picked up four boxes of the new 25% Global patties (Canada USA) and then drove Costco for groceries, and to CrossIron Mall where I went to the Koodo kiosk and was given a new $350 phone at no upfront cost to me. (no two-year contract either).

Koodo has no multi-year contract, but uses a 'Tab', which carries the phone cost forward and reduces that balance each month by 15%  of my bill and develops a credit after the balance reaches zero.   I also pay $5/month until the balance is zero.  If I leave early, I just pay off the balance owing. 

As it happens, I had accumulated a credit of $41 which reduced the Tab amount going forward.

I am very happy with Koodo and have a very good plan that includes unlimited calls nationwide and 2 GB of data for $60.  They no longer offer such a good deal, but I am grandfathered as long as I stay with them.

After much deliberation, I chose the nexus 5.  The Nexus 4 had been such a good phone, I figured this was the best choice -- unlocked, pure Android, and with Gorilla Glass 3. 

It makes no sense for me to buy a top end, $700+ phone when I destroy or lose them regularly.

I don't use phone cases.  It makes no sense to me to buy a slim phone and then add a clunky case.  I bought insurance, though, against any sort of damage (but not loss) for $6/month.  The coverage even includes replacement if I drop it into a barrel of syrup as I did with my Optimus Black.

At the kiosk, we turned it on to test the new SIM and immediately were offered system updates.  It came with Android 4.4.3 and first went to 4.4.4, then 5.1!  This took an hour over their wireless.

5.1???? Wow, Last I heard, the newest version was a reputed 5.0.2.  As it happens, I stumbled onto the first day release of 5.1 and bought the first phone to receive it.  More expensive phones are still waiting for 5.0 (Lollipop).

I drove home and turned up the heat, then ate and watched video for an hour and went to bed at 2100.  I had been up since 0300 EDST.

The first thing I noticed was how much longer the days are here.  In the north, winter days are very short, but in summer, the days are endless.  We passed the spring equinox several days ago and now the days are lengthening quickly.  We are now only three months from Midsummer's Day!

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.

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Wednesday March 25th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I was up at 0500 and had breakfast, then installed all my apps on the phone.  That is easy from Google Play on my laptop, but not as easy as it should be.  The phone is everything I had hoped and runs well, does not seem to use as much battery as some early reports indicated and is easy to use.

I've been away just less than four weeks now and I'll spend the day catching up, opening mail and paying bills.  I'll try to get outside, too.  The weather is lovely and the day is predicted to be warm, with the coming week expected to be even warmer.  As long as there is little wind, seven degrees Celsius is just fine for working on bees.

Red = A travel day, overnight in New Jersey and time at La Galleria in Antigua.
Blue = time on Compass Rose.
Green = a travel day, time in New York and travel home.

0921: I killed the first few hours of the day sorting mail and playing with the phone, plus reading various articles that Google Now found for me.  Mostly a waste of time, actually, but fun.   This new phone is excellent.  I think I made the right choice.

While at Aaron's, I spent hours looking at phones on eBay and Amazon and AliExpress, but could not decide.  I found many with most of the features I want, but could never be sure that the phones would cover the bands and provide LTE in Canada and the USA or upgrade to the latest operating system.

This phone should do fine for the next two years.  I can see that the latest $800 phones are going to be tending to obsolescence in that time. Some are already fading, and others are still on version 4.4.3 or 4.4.4 with only hopes of getting updated, or receiving a Android 5.x (Lollipop) upgrade.  5.x, now that the bugs are worked out, is a quantum leap ahead of the 4.x versions.

I went out for a brief walk through  the hives and lifted a few lids.  The temperature is only plus seven Celsius, but the bees are flying and cleaning out.



So far, losses do not look too bad and many hives are flying from as many as three boxes.

You'll notice some drops of moisture on the plastic of the pillow that is folded back in the picture.  Moisture, here on the dry prairies can be a good thing since the droplets provide clean water day and night and bees need water to liquefy the honey to feed larvae. 

Additionally, bees maintain the brood chamber at a fairly high and constant moisture level, and if that level drops, the bees will not rear brood.  Indoor wintering facilities are maintained at low moisture during winter and the bees remain inactive, but if the humidity rises, the bees immediately become active and the temperature can rise suddenly.

In looking for Henry Pirker's study, which seems to be nowhere on the 'net, but perhaps available from ABJ, I came across the article below, written fifteen years ago on BEE-L.  Of course the links are obsolete, but the thoughts are just as valid today as back then.

Click here to read the thread in the BEE-L archives.

Here is another contribution.

People wonder why I don't bother with BEE-L anymore.  Besides issues with moderation which allows abuse and stalking on the list in spite of my best efforts in the past, I have said everything I have to say -- many times -- and to (mostly) deaf ears.

Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 21:31:52 -0600
Sender: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology
From: Allen Dick <allend@INTERNODE.NET>

Subject: Opinions are not facts
Please be wary of categorical and oversimplified statements about wintering, even if they sound convincing in theory or are vastly popular.

Wintering is a complex topic that is very interrelated with other management practices and requirements are strongly dependant on locale. Wintering and spring issues have been covered in depth in the past on BEE-L and from many perspectives. Members in search of a wider range of ideas are advised to dig a little at http://www.internode.net/HoneyBee/BEE-L/ and to consult web sites (1) and texts.

Although BEE-L can provide some ideas and understanding, the only way to be sure what will actually work in any given region is to meet neighbouring beekeepers and analyse their successes -- and failures.

Remember that speculation, dogma, fads and partial truths tend to dominate discussion lists. This is part of the development and discussion of ideas, but while such development is underway, a lot of half baked ideas get chewed over. Wintering is a practical, rather than theoretical process, and although theory can give some guidance to practice, empirical success is much more meaningful than all the calculating and theorizing in the world.

Also, it pays to keep in mind that repetition of a statement does not make it more true, any more than capitalizing it does. Often the truth is repeated less frequently than popular simplifications because the truth is often complex and not easily reduced to simple saws. It takes a lot more effort to state truths rigorously than to generalize and sloganize.

For this and other reasons (2) those who really know the answers often can't be bothered to get involved in discussion, and although they may make occasional attempts to set things straight, are normally content to just ignore untruths, half truths and out right fantasy. If experts do bother to read the list, they often do so just to keep a finger on the pulse, for companionship, or for entertainment. There are, thankfully, exceptions on this list, but 9 times out of 10, experts just lurk and let others speculate and pontificate. (2) Therefore be sure to research the archives. Some gems exist.

On the matter of wintering:

The simple truth is that, even with all the research that has been done to date, we humans know very little about bees. Our understanding is at a very gross and macro level. A wise reader should doubt the pronouncements of anyone who declares, without reservation or respect for opposing views, that any specific thing is always so in regard to bees.

In particular, I would like to say here -- once again -- that there can be absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone who has much experience wintering bees outdoors on locations in Western Canada that wrapping in some form is normally essential to reliable success. Enough people have been taken in by naive pronouncements of southern 'experts' -- and lost most or all of their hives -- to prove this point conclusively. Over and over. Moreover, good things have been said about insulation used wisely, even in what many of us consider to be the south.

As for whether bees are killed by cold, take a handful of bees and put them in the freezer for a while and see if they are dead. Then reconsider what has been said here recently. Moreover, beekeepers know that nucs and small hives are vulnerable to chilling of brood, serious set back, and even total loss due to even brief exposure to cold weather. There is definitely a colony size below which cold is deadly. Small hives do nicely, though, if protected from the cold.

Larger colonies are better able to withstand (manage) cold, but all beekeepers know that colonies do best in sheltered locations compared to windy places or low spots where frost collects. Beekeepers know sudden temperature drops often result in bees being isolated from the cluster and perishing to the detriment of the colony, or in clusters becoming divided and perishing. Cold is a stress that consumes the bees resources, both individually and collectively and reduces their ability to deal with other stresses. Cold kills. It is just not as quick, certain or obvious as the result of a sudden drenching, starving or suffocation.

Do bees heat the interior of their hives? Recent posts say 'no', with no reservation expressed. Well, this has been covered thoroughly in the past. I'll recap a bit here. Again.

Bees do heat the hive interior, but not necessarily as the result of a deliberate attempt to do so. A cluster of bees releases heat. Some say it is equivalent to the heat given off by an average chicken. The interior of a tighter, smaller hive will naturally warm up faster than a larger draftier hive as a result of the cluster's cumulative body heat, due to lower comparative heat loss.

At some point, the bees will break cluster and hive metabolism will drastically increase as result of this activity, resulting in further warming. This results in better access to food, possibly more brood rearing, foraging, etc. . In a larger, draftier hive, a similar cluster may never break in similar weather. This can be good or it can be bad, but it is true. This knowledge helps us manage splits and nucs -- as well as designing our wintering system.

Studies have shown that steady temperatures around the freezing mark with controlled humidity and good air circulation are the best for successful and economical wintering of bees. Any method that can assist in moderating temperature swings and in managing cluster heat without eliminating the ability of bees to exit the hive when appropriate -- and without upsetting the moisture balance -- is bound to be beneficial. Hives wraps are used to this purpose in some management systems. Styrofoam hives apparently can be much warmer than wood hives and most who have used them have raved about how well the bees do. (1)

Can you have too much ventilation? Of course you can. If a lid blows off a hive here in winter or spring -- even if there is no precipitation during that time -- it is pretty well a goner or, at minimum, badly damaged unless the lid is replaced within days.

As for moisture being the killer, well, too much of anything can be bad, whether it be heat, air flow, food -- whatever... Studies show that bees regulate the humidity inside the cluster within narrow limits if they are able. Moisture is an essential supply for bees. Like us, bees are made up principally of water and need to maintain the balance in their bodies within fairly close limits. They need liquid water and they need some humidity. Without the correct amounts of vapour and liquid, winter or summer, they suffer, are weakened and ultimately may die. In Western Canada, bees starve in winter when on granulated stores, if they cannot find enough moisture to liquefy them. In extreme dry cold, on windy days excessive air flow air may suck the moisture from the hive and the individual bees in the cluster.

Under such a scenario, any water from respiration that is not expelled by ventilation is immediately unavailable as it turns to ice on contact with cold surfaces and the bees may be in a dehydrated condition and lose any open brood. The challenge reverses a few days later when there may be excess moisture in the same hive as conditions change and ice melts.

While the bees are in free air at the beginning of winter before they eat their way up through the hive, and wrapping is less essential, wrapping, particularly the insulation at the top of a hive, allows the top board and frames to be warmed by contact with the bees once they eat their way to the top. This allows the bees to spread out and to also to collect condensed water just outside the cluster as they begin brood rearing. Bees need water to raise brood. (3)

Make no mistake. Air, water, and heat are all essential factors that must be *managed*, winter and summer, spring and fall, for bees to be successful. Bees can manage these things quite well by themselves under most conditions, and, indeed, their ability to mitigate conditions and to thrive under a wide range of environmental conditions makes it difficult to assess exactly what the limits of their abilities are and what optimal parameters might be. The goal of any successful wintering system is to ensure that the bees are housed in conditions that cause the least stress possible on the bees and the colony, by requiring little effort on their part to maintain acceptable airflow, moisture and temperature levels.

No matter whether the bees are indoors or outdoor, wrapped or not, strongly ventilated or relatively closed, the goal is to ensure each bee maintains maximum lifespan and health so that the colony will be ready for spring. Adjusting hive volume, wrapping hives, and adjusting ventilation are some of the techniques that an observant and understanding beekeeper can use to help the bees survive and thrive.

Spring brings on its own environmental challenges...

allen http://www.internode.net/HoneyBee/

(1) Some web sites http://www.hunajainensam.fi/english/bees.html#a6-c http://reineschapleau.wd1.net/articles/hivernage.fr.html http://entomology.unl.edu/beekpg/tidings/btid2001/btdapr01.htm http://www.internode.net/HoneyBee/Spring/unwrap.htm http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/Apiculture/Wintering.htm

(2) A few reasons why experts lurk and don't correct obvious lies and half truths

There are too many lies and half truths: they never end Experts are experts because they use their time wisely Experts are usually pretty busy Experts have valuable reputations and often get attacked and abused if they reveal themselves Experts are often in sensitive positions and if they casually express personal opinions may find complaints are made to their employers and find they are subject to discipline for public conjecture There are more reasons...

(3) Henry Pirker published a paper some time back entitled "Steering Factor Humidity" that showed how he could control brood rearing in wintered colonies at will by adjusting humidity.


My swimming pool is still a block of ice, but it is starting to melt.   I see it has little brown streaks on it.  I wonder what causes them?

I drove to Oram's for supper.  It is an hour and a half trip and I drove straight through, arriving at 1710. 

We had supper and then went for the usual walk to the lake and back.  There is still snow in the playground, but Nathan and I played on the swings and he went down the slide a few times.

A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise.
Because that is how life is -- full of surprises.
Isaac Bashevis Singer

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Thursday March 26th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I'm at Orams this AM and will be driving home shortly. I have company -- the usual suspects -- for supper tonight.

Today, I made a major addition to yesterday's post.

I always go back and fine-tune my prose and clarify ideas for a few days after I write entries, so if you care, be sure to glance back a few days in the diary each day.  Sometimes I add quite a bit and sometimes I think twice about saying something and delete it.

After a day or two, I leave things as they are unless there is a bad link or misspelling. I don't alter old posts beyond correcting typos as one purpose of this diary is to show how I think and the errors I make, sometimes repeatedly. A pet peeve is writers who alter their historical entries.

I'm home and I made supper right off, then went out to look at the bees.  I'm not doing anything today, just looking.

At right is a good hive, and fairly typical.  With temperatures at fifteen Celsius (sixty degrees Fahrenheit), they are flying from all four boxes and have cleaned the floor.  Dead bees from the winter can be seen piled out front.  See how clean the floor is?  The bees did that, not me.

I hate to bother a hive like this, even to add patties and Apivar. They are doing just fine and will make at least three splits if they continue to prosper, but not until May.  To split them earlier would set them back.

I will, however give them patties and treatment, but with as little disturbance as possible.  The problem is, however, that the brood may extend down through several boxes and may not even be in the top box.  Apivar should be close to brood.

One revelation from a recent US-wide survey of beekeepers was that the majority of colony loss was blamed on starvation, not "CCD". It reinforces my belief that the major cause of colony death in North America is beekeepers.

My friends came over and we had a fun evening.

It's a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research & study,
the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.
Aldous Huxley

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Friday March 27th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept until 0930 today.  The day is another warm one and I could bother the bees, but think I will give them a few warm days to arrange their nests before invading their space.

I wrote to ABJ for the Henry Pirker articles and was delighted that they sent me PDF copies of both.  I am asking for permission to post them since they are not available anywhere on the Internet that I could find.

The matter of particular interest to me is humidity since in my opinion, many beekeepers over-ventilate their hives, making life difficult for their bees. I did a quick search and it seems that 40% RH is what the bees try to maintain in the brood area and that can be difficult in cold weather when the outside RH drops drastically on the prairie.  That drops even more when that air is warmed to cluster temperatures.

From 6.3.1. Honey bee intra-hive relative humidity requirements — COLOSS

Humidity within a colony can also be influenced by honey bees, albeit to a lesser extent than temperature (Human et al., 2006). Similar to temperature, relative humidity can differ among areas of a colony (Human et al., 2006), but also fluctuate substantially because of breathing events that exchange stale air at optimal humidity with air at ambient humidity (Southwick and Moritz, 1987). Relative humidity within honey bee colonies (among frames and not within capped brood cells) is typically between 50 and 80% (Human et al., 2006; V. Dietemann, pers. comm.), and when given a choice between a range of relative humidities (i.e. 24, 40, 55, 75, and 90%), honey bees showed a preference for 75% (Ellis et al., 2008). The OECD (1998) recommends relative humidity to be between 50-70% for laboratory testing of acute oral toxicity of chemicals.

(emphasis added)

More at: 5. Cages in which to maintain adult workers in the laboratory — COLOSS

ABJ was quick in granting permission, so here they are, with credit to The American Bee Journal and of course the author, the late Henry Pirker.

While I am at it, here is an excellent wintering article of interest by Adony.

Zippy (she came home last night with Ruth) and I took a stroll out to look at the hives.  So far in the north hives, I see one dead-out for sure in the thirty-five or so hives that are there.  It is obvious from the robbing stains (right).

There is some active robbing out there now, as I found myself greeted and followed as I walked through the yard in short sleeves and shorts.  I lifted a few lids on what looked like weaker hives, but they all seem to have good clusters.  If there are any weak sisters in the bunch, the robbing should eliminate them in the coming few days.

I intend to do some alcohol washes or maybe put on some screen bottoms, but either is going to be a job, given the size of these hives.  I'll also have to get going with the patties and Apivar soon.

Here is an interesting PM I received today in the forum.  I am removing any details that might identify the writer as I gather he/she does not wish to be public.  Perhaps that is due to not wanting to seem confrontive or be controversial, the exact tendency that causes so many myths to continue to be accepted.


Subject: Presentation Available Online Now

AD > At this point, I am ready for criticisms and suggestions, as long as they are constructive.

I seldom post but I read this forum. I guess I'm average, started in xxx, hobbyist, 50ish colonies now. I fool myself thinking I know what I'm doing.

I don't know who your audience is, but I would be disappointed to sit through this. From a respected, successful beekeeper, I want knowledge, insight, experience and practical, timely advice to compare with what I do. This talk isn't about beekeeping, this is about what beekeeping isn't.

It took 30 pages, over half, to finally get to the "myths" . The first 30 pages were mostly a definition of what a myth is. Each heading broken down even further, with 8+ points each, ensuring you have alienated practically everyone. The headings alone are enough, no need to belabour the definition.

The "myths" sound more like a rant. Pages 31 to 35 start off with myths that are easy to agree with. On page 35 you start to step on some toes. From page 39 on, you hit below the belt.

You won't have enough time to finish this talk. Someone will be offended and you will have to discuss/defend your views, other cultists will gang up and the talk will disintegrate into a free for all. To what end? Your hard won knowledge and vast experience will never stand up to their rhetoric.

I'm not sure what I'm to take away from this talk.

As for Beesource, go back, your absence allows their nonsense to go unchallenged. If more experienced beekeepers' posted, they would soon slap down the misinformation the vocal few have managed to make mainstream.

I don't want this posted for the world to see, but you asked for constructive criticism, please take it as such.


My reply:

Thanks for the comments. I'd have appreciated receiving your point of view back when I was still working on it. It might have influenced me. I only received favourable feedback at the time, and critical feedback is far more useful. At this point, I may work it over again in a while, but am done with it.

Posting your comments to the forum would be useful, too, if you should choose to do so, since the entire intent of the talk was to be provocative and make people think.

Granted, it is not the slop that people want to hear, but is what I have to say after years of moderating discussions and watching misinformation dominating discussions.

> On page 35 you start to step on some toes.

Here is my page 35 and I am wondering whose toes?

"Humidity in a hive is harmful and more ventilation is better. Bees do not heat the brood chamber. Bees lack personality. Bees cannot reason. Bees can liquefy any granulated honey. Combs should be changed often or on schedule. Mite resistant bees from elsewhere will be resistant in my region Purchased queens are superior to home-raised queens. Emergency queens are inferior. Beekeepers always tell the truth.

> From page 39 on, you hit below the belt.

I don't see how. I believe my stated opinions are ones I can defend intelligently and successfully.

Can you enlighten me as to how you reach that conclusion?

> As for Beesource, go back, your absence allows their nonsense to go unchallenged. If more experienced beekeepers' posted, they would soon slap down the misinformation the vocal few have managed to make mainstream.

BeeSource (BS for short) edits and deletes posts, altering the intent of the writers and skewing conversations. I refuse to be involved anywhere that happens.

Again, thanks for the critique, and please consider posting your comments on the forum. I very much appreciate hearing your thoughts and am sure others would learn something from your different slant.

Years ago, Aaron gave Barry a start as a BEE-L moderator , but there were issues when Barry insisted on favouring and okaying questionable posts, a practice that he took when he left and started BeeSource.

Barry also proved to be vindictive.  He grabbed and cyber-squatted on BEE-L.com, the logical URL for BEE-L (even to this very day).  At one time, he used that domain to poach people looking for BEE-L and to direct them to BS.  (He did, for appearances, list other discussion resources below, but hid BEE-L in a list.). 

When it was pointed out politely that he had grabbed a domain he really should not have, he put a childish and petulant placeholder there, directing to BS.  I see today that he no longer has anything there, but the domain remains unavailable to its rightful owner should he want it.

I will spare readers other stories, but I have some old email...

I will admit freely that there are many worthwhile things on BS -- I dropped in just now for the first time in a year or more to refresh my memory -- but it is not a place I wish to spend time.

So much for BS.

Next:  Regarding the above quoted conversation, I very much appreciate differing opinions and polite dialogue, including polite confrontations. 

Evidently the writer thinks people should only hear things they want to hear.  I don't agree, obviously.

I also understand that people don't like to hear the Emperor has no clothes, especially when they have bought he whole sham and are standing naked.  Nor do they like to hear the Kool Aid is poisoned after having drunk it and passed the cup around.

I confess I did that talk with some trepidation and am not entirely sure I did the right thing.  We'll see if it makes any ripples.

I recall attending many talks over the years and the outstanding ones were ones where my established ideas were shaken.  Steve Tabor particularly stands out in memory for saying the unexpected.

Here is one revelation that is confirmed in multiple surveys as I recall.  This news runs counter to the babble in the media and the beliefs of most people these days.

Starvation is the Number One Killer
From the 2012 Ontario Provincial Apiarist Annual Report

The above refers to only obvious and terminal starvation.

From this page, commenting on another survey, this time in the US we see this: "...Third, the top reasons for total mortality were weak colonies going into the fall (56% risk of mortality), starvation (55% risk of mortality), queen failure (51% risk of mortality), and varroa mite infestation (57% risk of mortality)"

Why are colonies weak going into fall?  Oftentimes, it is because the hives had insufficient forage or too much honey was taken from them, so some of that 'weakness' links directly back to chronic starvation and undernourishment!

Even queen failure may link back to poor nourishment when queens were being raised or superseded.

Starvation is a major risk to honey bee colonies under management.

When I was looking for information about humidity and came across the Bee Informed National Management Survey 2010-2011 again.  This study came up with some very provocative results, and, to some extent, inspired my Myths talk.  Here are just a few gems...

Replacing comb increases wintering loss
From Degree of Brood Comb Replacement

Using Fumagillin does not reduce winter loss
From Fumagillin Use

All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability.
The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.
Bruce Lee

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Saturday March 28th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I woke up early today, at 0530, and had breakfast.

I am resolved not to spend the day indoors.  We'll see how that goes.  I think I'll begin by going back to bed.  I did just that and slept another hour.

Next:  today breakfast is at The Mill, and I suppose I'll go over.  After that, I'll take a look at my bees, I suppose. 

I should do some alcohol washes or sugar shakes.  The problem with alcohol; washes is that it uses up 300 of the youngest, most promising bees that would raise another 900 that would raise another 2,700, and so on and so on...

 Sugar shakes are not as accurate, yielding about half the mites from the same samples, but do spare the bees.

I'll gather some bees for nosema test, too, and borrow my 'scope back.  If I do find nosema, I won't treat, though unless it is terrible which I doubt.  I have real doubts about fumagillin.

How strong are your overwintered hives? 

At this point, hives are at their most vulnerable.  Bees are old and they are beginning to to raise as much brood as they can. 

These old bees need any help they can get from insulation and windbreaks.  They need good, high quality food close to the cluster. Simulative feeding is risky if the hives are small.  Larger hives are much less at risk and can stand some stimulation. 

When we visited Aaron's hives in upper New York State on cool, breezy days last week, we gave patties to the strong ones, quickly and carefully centred clusters which had moved to one side and away from their feed, and left any hive with less than four full frames of bees alone until better weather unless it was starving

How do we know a hive is verging on starvation? 

On a cool day, a happy small colony should have bees that are quite calm and clustered.

In comparison, a hive unable to reach or liquefy enough feed will have bees that are comparatively agitated, runny and in a looser cluster.

A hive about to die from starvation will have a tight, almost motionless cluster with the bees heads buried in cells.

Anything smaller than three frames that looked healthy we combined with another similar hive by stacking the two brood boxes up with one cluster over the other.  Of course, we wrapped them again.  There is some hope they may survive and amount to something worthwhile.

I only showed the strongest of his hives here.  There were many weak and many dead.  The one I show above was the best we saw.

I went to The Mill and had breakfast with the gang, then returned home.  I stopped at Bert's on the way and he, Maddy and I looked at his hive which seems to be doing well.  The hive is up on a hayrack and hard to reach.  It is a double, with two shallows on top and seems heavy.  Bees have cleaned the floor and are patrolling the upper auger hole.  He has put in Apivar, but we discussed that the strips must be near the brood and he will adjust them when it is warmer.

It is cool today.  The temperature is plus six, but there is a 6 MPH breeze and it is spitting rain.  I think I'll put of the bee work until tomorrow when sun is predicted.

Below are shots of the local native dwarf poplars and at right, the Northwest poplars budding.


I really liked my Nexus 4.  Except for the weak glass back that broke three times, it was the best phone I ever had.

The Nexus 5 is turning out to be even better.  It is slimmer, larger in surface, with a very bright screen.  The battery seems to last well enough and Chris gave me an inductive charger on which I lay the phone when at my desk, so it recharges without plugging in.

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
André Gide

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Sunday March 29th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I woke up from a dream at 0408 and realised that I was not going back to sleep.

I was rushing on foot some considerable distance to catch a boat, an ocean-going passenger steamship (not a cruise ship), at a dock on a river.  Along the way, I passed my brother and his wife and they said my boat was in.  In the half-light, I could see two similar ships at the boarding docks ahead. 

I hurried on and as I got down to the docks at water level, walking along boards that reminded me of the observer side of a hockey arena boards, one of two ships left.  I was unsure if it was mine or the other, so I continued in the direction of the remaining ship.  I was on time, so assumed it must be mine.

As I walked, I examined a long cash register slip detailing my fare and noticed that although my fare was a bit over $1,200, other fares had been added and the total was about $5,700 +/-.  That did not particularly bother me, but did make me wonder.

I arrived at the boat, only to find the entry to the gangway not down there, but up a hill at a higher deck level and I hurried up the slope, wondering if I was over-exerting myself.  I did not think so.

When I arrived at what should have been the entrance to the walkway across to the boat, I was wanting to confirm that this was my ship, but I could not recall the name of it. Moreover, instead of a ticket counter, there were several booths, reminding me of a carnival. 

At that point, I got tired of all this rushing about and worrying and woke up.  I lay a while wondering what all that was about, then got up and made coffee and an omelet.

So began another day.

At 0549, it is plus one outside with a 4 MPH wind from the SSW.  The day promises to reach plus seventeen, which is just about room temperature, but with a 30/50 KPH wind this afternoon.  It'll be a great day for kiting or windsurfing, but I am committed to working on my bees.  Maddy will come over since she wants to learn bees.  The wind should not be too bad north of the hedge.

I like to choose a day when predictions are for settled weather in the coming few days if I plan to do more than look inside hives so that the bees have days to recover from any manipulations.

No matter how good our intentions or how beneficial we may think our intervention may be, it always takes time for the bees to figure out what we have changed and re-organize things the way they need them.  The smaller the hive, the more difficult for them and the greater the stress.

Large hives in good weather can take a lot of abuse, even things like shook swarming, Demareeing, and other perverted things we do to them, but in spring and smaller hives, the tolerance for our disturbances is much less.

In preparation for spring work, I suppose I need to look back on last year and see what I was doing.  That winter was one of the worst in memory, so things were different.  This past winter has been an easy one. Nonetheless, looking back over recent years reminds me of things that are easily forgotten.

I see now that I am a week behind last year.

Reading over the diary, I am impressed at how consistent my message is and why I felt compelled to drop the "Myths" bomb.  I'm now waiting for fallout. 

I've grown really, really weary of hearing the same old falsehoods repeated over and over and I'm getting to be a cranky old man.  I even hear the same old BS repeated by people who obviously must know better, but feel compelled to repeat the catechism.  It is human nature to fit in and don't think I don't feel the impulse to conform.

Maybe getting it all off my chest will help, but will anyone listen and understand, or will I still hear the same old BS repeated as truth forever?

I see now that I did not post a link to Myths here, but did offer it in the forum.  It seems I do a lot of writing there lately.  Here are links to the discussion and the presentation:

I went out at 1000 and began organizing.  I'm out of condition for this and the exercise should whip me into shape.  It is only thirteen degrees out with a fourteen MPH wind and I am already finding it too warm. 

Maddy came over and we worked through the 20 hives in Quonset West, adding Apivar and two patties of Global 25% patties Canada USA  to each.

We found one dead, one weak, and one drone layer.  The dead colony had been dead since fall, so hardly counts as winter loss.  

I combined the weak hive with the drone layer, so I count one (or two, if you prefer) dead out of twenty.  All survivors are very good so far, including a single that somehow was wintered with a  wide-open entrance.

As mentioned, I did not prepare these hives for winter and some still had supers on, including foundation.  At left is a box of mostly foundation that I took off today.  (It had ten frames.  Some are removed in the picture). The colony under it was just fine!  

Although all the hives had plenty of honey, some had quite a bit of granulation and I saw brood combs that had no nectar in them at all although there was some liquid feed in nearby combs. 

Ideally, there should be nectar above brood in such frames.  This is a reminder that honey in the hive does not necessarily mean honey in the bees. 

Right about now a little sugar syrup would be beneficial, but I am not set up to feed.

I also saw brood being raised on a frame with partially drawn foundation (left), and almost mature (tan) drone pupae in burr comb between boxes (right).  This means that in theory, at least, I could begin queen rearing before long!  I saw no sign of varroa in these pupae.

We started around eleven and finished around 1400.  Maddy was a real help.

I rested and ate supper, then went out for an hour or two to do some cleanup.  The Quonset Yard was left as a bit of a mess and had late splits.  There are at least four deadouts there, some of which were dead last summer. 

As far as I recall, I just dropped everything and did nothing at all with the bees after I went away in early September.  Things are lying just as they were after I pulled honey and supered up in late August.  Auger holes were open front and back on some hives.

I see that robbing is picking up a bit, so I closed up the holes and am going to put on entrance reducers tomorrow morning.  A bit of robbing is useful in cleaning out poor colonies, but if it goes too far, it can be a real issue with fighting and damage to good hives.

We got up to seventeen degrees C today and sixteen is predicted for tomorrow, so things could get hot if I don't throttle the entrances. 

Besides overt, nasty robbing, progressive robbing can waste bee resources.  Progressive robbing is identified by bees entering undefended parts of other hives and removing honey.  There is little, if any fighting and bees come and go as if they belong.  With big hives like this with lots of honey and many holes, there can be many undefended areas and the robbing can become circular.

The entrance reducers may cut the ventilation down, too, and raise the humidity.  I don't see any condensation water on the pillows these days, and bees need water.

It feels good to get out and do some work.  There is a lot to do.

I have to remind myself that it is not yet even April, and if I get too enthusiastic, I could harm the hives. 

Right now, I have to curb my enthusiasm and simply add Apivar, patties, and adjust any hives that need help. 

Stimulating hives or spreading brood could result in losses during April. 

In spite of the hot weather we are experiencing right now, we are guaranteed a cold snap or two yet.  April can be a very cold and windy month, and if the bees expand too much, they could get a setback from which some may not recover.  I've seen that before..

What if nothing exists and we're all in somebody's dream?
Or what's worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?
Woody Allen

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Monday March 30th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept until 0730.    I'm not suffering any aches or pains in spite of having putting in fairly heavy first bee day.

I first awoke at 0400, with a bit of congestion that roused me several more times before I finally woke up and got out of bed.  I wonder if the congestion comes from working bees yesterday.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it.

Today, I plan to clean up the Quonset Yard.  I'll begin by putting on entrance reducers and closing unnecessary auger holes to forestall robbing in the coming week.

We're expecting normal temperatures in the coming week and our days have expanded to more than twelve hours now, giving the bees a much longer flying window each day.

When robbing gets going, it naturally stops at sundown.  Stopping it before the day ends can be difficult.

The next day, bees reconnoiter the previous day's opportunities, but as each day begins, activity is muted as bees get flying and explore.  Days here typically start of cool, and there is little bee traffic until the day warms.

Whether robbing gets going again depends on the opportunities presented at that time.

How to stop robbing in a yard where you are sure that all the robbing comes from the hives in that same yard: Simply remove all the hive lids.  Robbing will end quite quickly as the bees shift their priority to watching over their own hives.  It works. 

If it does not, the robbers are coming from elsewhere.

I heard crows yesterday and am hearing geese right now.

Ruth came by for her computer this morning.  She had accidentally turned off the touchpad and, not knowing what was wrong, brought it and left it the other night, so I had checked it out, enabled the touchpad, and done  some general housekeeping tasks for her.

I reserved my BC flight this morning.  

I just got home from a long absence, so have been  enjoying being here and have been putting off reserving my flight west until now.  Wednesday is my departure day, however, and I couldn't procrastinate longer.

The delay and late reservation cost me an extra $100 or so, but somewhere in my mind I was undecided about going, and it seems and I half-expected something to change my plans.  Part of the extra cost is a flexible return date and free bags, so it is not all bad. Now it is settled.  One week on Cassiopeia, coming up.

I had only ten Apivar strips left today and went out to work on the hives.  I'm working on the Quonset yard right now and had finished fifteen hives by 1400, including three deadouts and a drone layer.   Twelve hives now stand where there were fifteen. Twenty percent loss on this row. Fourteen percent on the thirty-five I have worked over so far. 

Fifteen percent was what I considered normal winter loss back when I ran thousands.

Do I keep count?  Not really.  Although I keep this diary and take pictures, finding the numbers they want is not easy, certain, or even meaningful -- unless it was something I care about and recorded assiduously. 

Exact survival numbers are not important to me, nor do they mean anything when the hives I keep are of all sorts and some were dead in fall or unlikely to winter anyhow.  When the government busybodies want to know how many went into winter, and how many came out and where the queens came from, yada, yada, I will have to make something up, I suppose.

I came back in and had a rest.  If I had more strips, I would have done more, but once in, I did not feel like going back out. 

Someone posted this link on the Calgary Beekeepers email list.

I posted this:

Although I am sure the intent is good and there are some good points, I hope people don't believe everything in that document or think that everything in it is useful, true, or practical.

A response:

> Thanks Allen for your insight and feedback. As you mentioned, there are some good points but in 155 pages, not everything will be useful or practical to everyone. 

Me again:

This document appears to have been generated by imaginative busybodies with too little practical experience, too much time on their hands, too many words, and too much money. (Probably ours, not theirs).

The problem is that many will not know what is true and useful, and what is just horsefeathers. 

It looks official and I am betting some interfering types will love to try to enforce it on an industry and hobby that has had too few problems to justify such control. 

Unless people object and/or laugh at it, soon we will find it become law and subject to enforcement. 

Meijers are coming for supper.  I missed them earlier and am going away Wednesday, so we'll meet tonight.

I hope that improves my mood.  I'm grumpy today in spite of some bee sting therapy. 

Oh, wait.  That's wrong.  Bee stings cure arthritis, not crankiness.  Everyone knows that!

More from Friday the 27th's PM writer...  Interesting perspective.

He (she?) says:


When I wrote, I said I would be disappointed to sit through this. Not by what you said, but the fact you said it. You have challenged the very heart of their beekeeping dogma. I never said you were wrong*, or can't defend it, I said they won't want to hear it. Me either!

We both know believing these myths and following the internet's self appointed messiah will lead nowhere. So what! Let them carry their banner held high, these are not the beekeepers who will ever amount to anything. When they fail, those disillusioned beekeepers (who were meant to be), will seek out the knowledge and experience of successful beekeepers' methods. The rest will just disappear and join the next crusade..., after blaming anything but themselves.

So..., as I already said. Rather than waste this talk on the fringe groups, talk to the people who are eager to profit from your vast experience, insight and successful methods. Give me something to take away from your talk, my experience and common sense already dismissed the myths. That was my "slant" on your talk. The topic, not the content.

I watched the link you included. Factual, informative and thought provoking, he said it like it was, there for the taking. And that is what "I" expect from a knowledgeable, successful beekeeper's talk.

The rest of my email was basically saying, your definitions were too long and that "I" feel were purposely meant to offend the believers. I think you are kidding yourself if you believe otherwise and cautioning you, if you did. To what end?

I also read BeeSource, been a member since 2002 and have posted less than 50 times. My hard won knowledge goes against the guru's cryptic, one liners, and their rabid followers are quick to pounce on anyone who tries to correct it. I learned early to bite my tongue.

Oh, and, Bees make honey from pollen, you missed that one.

*The Ontario Provincial Apiarist now recommends cyclical changing of brood combs, makes sense to me. Can't hurt, might help.

Why am I being such a curmudgeon and spoiling everyone's fun? 

I'm just paying it forward.  I was just as gullible as anyone when I began and if people like Dr. Don Peer, Steve Tabor and others had not taken the time to tell me things I did not want to hear, my bee career probably would have gone very differently.  As it was, I was not the best listener, but people persisted.

*    *    *    *    *

By "the link you included", I think he/she (what's with pseudonyms [and gender pronouns for  that matter] anyhow?) means Tony Jadzek's talk at the NJBA Winter Meeting, mentioned on slide 50 here.  I linked to it because it is a great talk by an accomplished bee man and speaker. Karen recommended it to me when I mentioned that Tony had told me the whole story at dinner in Sacramento one night. Knowing Dave as I did, I found it a credible explanation.

I know where a few skeletons are buried and it is hard to keep them a secret, especially when 'secrets' like this have been made public but totally ignored, because they are inconvenient.

"Everyone -- beekeepers, extension, research, legislators, press -- are getting work, money and creds from this CCD story and nobody is getting hurt, so why should we debunk it?" 

Because it is mostly baloney, that's why, and we all lose when we deceive ourselves.

*    *    *    *    *

As for changing brood comb, knock yourself out, but when I open my hives after a winter as I did today and yesterday, where are the bees clustered and raising brood in the best hives that happen to have multiple ages and styles of comb?

Correct!  The oldest comb in the box. 

I don't listen to people so much, but I sure do listen to my bees.

As always, follow the money.  As I mentioned on one of my slides -- in vain it seems -- bee manufacturers spend a lot of money to convince us to buy, buy, buy.  Apparently lots of people, including opinion  leaders are taken in by this blarney.

Can't hurt?  Hurt whom?  Not the manufacturers or the publishers. 

Might help?  Might not!  It's your money.  Drink the Kool Aid.  There is no way to ever know if it helps, but I know it costs time, money and bee labour up front. 

Everything has its cost: old comb may have its cost (no way of knowing for sure), but drawing new comb definitely does cost money, time and crop -- and we lose the proven advantages of the old combs.

Yes, there is definite need for the dose of cod liver oil I am promoting, but there is amazing resistance out there, even in those who really should know better. 

The urge to conform and "be safe" in the middle of a herd headed for slaughter is a powerful instinct.

*    *    *    *    *

Did I mention that I am really really grumpy these days and not in the mood for any more BS?  Grrrrr.

*    *    *    *    *

I had a pleasant supper with my friends as always.  My ad hoc chicken casserole turned out even better than I had hoped.  The squash was delicious and the al dente brown/red rice mixture was as good as always. I forgot to cook and serve the broccoli.  Pineapple chunks were the dessert. 

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.
Winston Churchill

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Tuesday March 31st 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I drank coffee at supper last night and although it seldom keeps me awake, least night, it did.  I had trouble getting to sleep and it was after 0200 that I finally fell asleep, then I slept soundly through to 0830. 

I won't waste much time here at the keyboard this morning.  The day is already warm enough to go out and get started.  I have enough Apivar to do the rest of the hives at this point.  There is little chance I can do them all in the time I have available, but I shall do what I can.

I always review the past few days entries in the mornings and correct where necessary.  Even then, I miss typos until much later.

Today, I notice several apparent inconsistencies.  

1. I believe I have excoriated beekeepers for leaving empty comb-less space above the winter cluster, then reported how colonies with a super of foundation or partially drawn comb had wintered well. 

2. I also warn not to feed this early, then said "Right about now a little sugar syrup would be beneficial..."

If you were thinking when you read this, you might wonder.

Let me explain:

1. My hives have enough feed that the colonies were still down in the hive and had not gone up onto the foundation space when feed ran low.  Most beekeepers don't leave that much feed on hives, so I lucked out. Regardless, leaving foundation above the drawn boxes is folly.  Guilty.

2. My hives have plenty of feed.  What I was thinking was a small amount -- 2 cups -- of thin syrup, commonly applied in a small can with five or ten small nail holes placed on a hole in a top board above the cluster would provide them with the constant supply of water needed to maintain brood.  My hives seem too dry inside.

This is is an expert technique and requires the correct equipment and the necessary wisdom to understand when to do it and when not.  I am not set up with my current system to do this and my only easy way to reduce water loss is to reduce entrances.

At times, I do seemingly contradict myself and unless I realise it and take the effort to explain, people must be left puzzled.  "He said this, then he said the opposite." 

Words are an imperfect and constrictive container in which to store and distribute ideas.  Words are limited, imprecise, and tricky, and trying to fit the wholeness of even an instant of reality into mere words -- no matter how many or how carefully they are chosen -- necessarily leaves a lot out.  In actual fact, much more than 99.99999....%.  No wonder we don't know much of what we think we know, especially at times and on subjects where we think in words rather than experience.

We often forget how much is assumed and left out of even the most elaborate and careful explanation.

Wow!  I think I almost got that into words.

Now to get moving.

I have been out an hour and came in to get some things like a wide scraper for top bars and fresh water for my water bucket.  All  have done so far is unload the truck and rearrange brood chambers stored on one of my trailers. 

What I seldom mention and many people don't realize is that beekeeping is largely a material handling enterprise, and there are a large number of moving parts.  Even with one hive, success depends on organization and logical handling of the various parts as the seasons change.  As the number of hives increases, the logistics become imponderable unless some scheme is developed and mechanical devices are employed.

The thermometer reads plus sixteen and the wind is blowing seventeen MPH.  I've had to strip down to just shorts and my bee suit.  I don't wear the bee suit as protection from bees so much as a comfortable work suit that protects me from sun, honey and wax.

At 1126, I'm about to go out again and hope to get working on the bees.  First, though, I have to organize some more so that I am not wasting motion.

When I was in my twenties, I was trained by Lincoln Electric in time and motion studies.  There, I learned that time and effort spent in planning workflow and arranging tools and material conveniently saves much more time and effort while working.  In beekeeping, this also minimizes disturbance and stinging.

I have worked with many people who spend more time walking back and forth than actual beekeeping. 

It has occurred to me now that, ironically, the target audience for Myths is exactly the sort of experienced beekeeper who wrote saying, "I would be disappointed to sit through this.", and says the he/she will continue to rotate combs superstitiously because people who don't share in the loss that destroying a beekeeper's most precious asset -- drawn comb -- entails say it "might" help.

I'm spitting into the wind.

That said, I am a huge proponent of electron-beam radiation and was an -- if not the -- early advocate for the process in Alberta.  It has changed beekeeping here drastically.  Commercial operations with 10,000 hives which used to treat prophylacticly with antibiotics and still see three to five percent AFB now find only a  few cases a year without any antibiotic use and only culling of combs which no longer serve well for brood due to mice, drone comb, cell thickness, damages frames, excess weight due to cocoon buildup, etc...

That one thing -- radiation -- has done more than anything else to reduce AFB to negligible proportions in Alberta.  And, no, no commercial beekeeper I know changes gloves or washes hive tools between hives, let alone between yards.  That is just plain dumb. 

Bees visit one another's hives and if there is anything around, it will be shared.  You can't prevent it and beyond basic common sense, it is a waste of time and effort to even try.

If you see diseases, check your mites, then re-queeen and not from the same supplier.  Good stock can be exposed to disease and not suffer from breakdowns. 

What matters is not using elaborate measures to prevent exposure, but to recognize disease and respond by eliminating susceptible stock.  Susceptible stock will continue to break down no mater what hygienic measures a beekeeper makes and will create a reservoir of disease that will challenge even resistant stock.

We need hygienic bees, not so much hygienic beekeepers.  After all, it is the bees that break down and bad stock will be problematic when better stock will be thriving without a hint of trouble.

Don't let yourself be distracted from the real solution: better bees.

Keep track of queen suppliers if you buy queens don't buy from suppliers whose bees are sick when others in your same yard are well.  If you raise your own queens, be very careful which mother queens and drones are used.  The parentage on both sides makes huge differences.  And, don't assume that the good characteristics will be passed down.  Assess the offspring, too.

Back to rotating combs: If you have AFB and are unwilling to use the magic bullet that banishes it forever (as far as I can tell, three years after introducing badly infested comb in an experiment) with a one-time treatment with three weekly recommended doses, do it.  The magic AFB bullet is Tylosin.

Well, it is now 1201 and I am really going out this time...

At 1413, I am back in to get a few more things.  So far, I have left five hives standing and deleted two drone more layers.  The hives in this spot are weak and maybe a waste of time, but the job has to be done.  I'm also stacking deadouts and equipment that has been scattered around here as I go, and that slows me down.

The wind is now gusting from the south at at 30 MPH, but the yards are not too breezy.

I'm back in at 1748.  I finished the Quonset Yard and came in for supper.  The wind continues to blow, drying out the countryside.  Predictions are for cooler weather tomorrow with a high of five and rain.  While I am gone, the predictions are for a few warm days, but most will be cool, warming again when I return.

Only fourteen more hives stand treated, checked and fed with two patties , than the tally this morning, for a total of forty live hives now done.  I have picked up about eight deadouts so far.  This yard was pretty poor last summer and I did nothing here after August, so some were dead before winter.  

The yard is neater, but I did not accomplish as much as I hoped.

I had supper and watched video, then went to bed early, at 2130.

Do you want to know who you are?
Don't ask. Act!
Action will delineate and define you.
Thomas Jefferson

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